When I first signed up for Facebook a couple of years ago, it was at the request of a friend who wanted to stay in touch a little better online. I had successfully avoided Myspace and really didn’t think I wanted to try Facebook, but my friend wore me down. It turned out lots of my old friends were already there, and Facebook has been a great addition to my life, except for one little thing.
Not long after joining Facebook, several friends sent me invitations to play different games. Most were for FarmVille and Mafia Wars, two of the most popular games from a company called Zynga. The largest social gaming company on the planet, Zynga is so popular that they are now launching their own platform independent of Facebook. They are even partnering with Hasbro to bring toys and games based on their online games to children everywhere.
I was a newbie on Facebook, and I didn’t want to hurt any of my friends’ feelings by turning down their requests to play Zynga’s games. Besides, they looked like fun, so I accepted. What I did not realize was that most of your friends are not going to be sad if you say no thanks to a game request. By and large your friends are just sending out mass invitations to everyone on their list. It’s more like they are standing on top of the monkey bars yelling, “Everyone come play!” than actually singling you out with an invitation. But newbies don’t realize that.
I learned quickly that if you are going to play Zynga’s games, you have to have friends. Lots of friends. And the number of people you actually know isn’t likely to be nearly enough. For Mafia Wars, you needed a minimum of 500 friends in the game just to compete. By the time I realized how much I wanted Zynga out of my life, I had over 700 “friends” on Facebook, most of whom were people I did not know and had to be specially filtered so they could not see most of my posts or personal information.
Zynga ate up a lot of my spare time, and took attention away from things I should have been doing around the house. Laundry started piling up more than usual with three growing kids. I started losing precious sleep staying up late after my family had gone to bed to play my games. I had online buddies who spent real money on the games, hundreds of dollars even, on virtual things that had no value at all. Thankfully, my investments were limited to time, but even that price very quickly became too steep.
On the first National Unfriend Day, invented by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, I broke up with Zynga for good. I unfriended over 500 people, all Zynga buddies, and it felt great! I blocked my old apps so I wouldn’t see their notifications anymore. Finally, Zynga was officially out of my life for good! Like a bad friend, I didn’t realize until it was over just how much Zynga had been draining out of me, but I was thankful to get away.
About 230 million people still play Zynga games each month, and Mark Skaggs, the developer of FarmVille, is reportedly working on a huge new secret project right now. Whatever it is, a lot of people are sure to love it. But not me. Zynga and I are finished.